Nitric Oxide a Player in Heart Health

Study shows link between it and robust arteries

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MONDAY, Nov. 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A link between nitric oxide and blood vessel health has been identified by Duke University Medical Center researchers.

They found an association between changes in nitrate, which is a biochemical marker of nitric oxide production, and physiological changes in arteries' reaction to stress. The finding may help lead to development of a noninvasive way of identifying people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

That could be important because up to half of patients who develop heart disease don't have typical risk factors.

In their pilot study of 37 people, the Duke researchers found an association between the systemic production of nitric oxide, which plays a key role in the ability of arteries to constrict or relax, and changes in the endothelial lining of arteries after they were stressed.

"This is the first study to attempt to link whole body production of nitric oxide with regional endothelial function," researcher Jason Allen says in a prepared statement.

"Both measures were found to discriminate between healthy participants and those with diagnosed cardiovascular disease," Allen says.

The study was presented Nov. 22 at the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine's annual scientific sessions in Seattle.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about reducing your risk of heart disease.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Nov. 22, 2003

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